Steven Landman, president of Carego International, is a serial entrepreneur who uses his high-tech experience and connections to advance medical care and education solutions to low-income communities in East Africa and Asia.
Landman’s humble and unassuming demeanor is key to his success. “I’ve been in technology almost twenty eight years, have started somewhere between ten and fifteen technology companies, and have orchestrated nearly as many IPOs, began Landman. “More recently, my focus is on technology for businesses in the developing world. Africa and Southeast Asia are regions ripe for technology business expansion.”
“More recently, my focus is on technology for businesses in the developing world. Africa and Southeast Asia are regions ripe for technology business expansion.”
Speaking from Vietnam where he is working on healthcare information systems, Landman explained why he is affiliated with QuickSchools, the Cloud-based school information system gaining recognition for its simplicity and scalability for small to medium-sized schools around the globe.
The majority of school Information and records in Vietnam are still paper-based. There is a lot of reporting to the Ministry of Education and the Districts via a manual processes. The Ministry had been researching school information systems for all school-level general education in Vietnam. They had spoken to several high-visibility companies, including Google, that expressed little interest in working on a Vietnamese-only solution. When Landman met Miss Nghia, she was convinced the Ministry could benefit from his expertise. ”
Intrigued by the challenge, Landman, his business partner Andrew Strauss, and their team at Carego evaluated over twenty student information systems, not only US-based systems, but also German and UK–based offerings. Often the functionality was so complex, the user was made to feel that the application was difficult.Some programs claimed to be Cloud-based, but had both some components of online, some offline. The prevalent solutions in Vietnam were all SMS-based, literally two-way SMS like cell phones, which is not usable due to lack of security and reliability. “The least sophisticated solution we evaluated was all administered on floppy drives so that every time there is a version upgrade, they literally wipe out the whole system and start from scratch,” added Landman.
Landman and his team found that US-centric systems were not flexible, or were based on old architecture that when adapted locally didn’t work. “What we found was that a lot of companies had very similar products, different features and functionality but each approached the solution a little bit differently. I’ve been working in the developing world for over ten years now. I am convinced that we cannot take US systems and drop them in these countries without some scope of modification.”
“I don’t think I was prepared at first to recommend the correct solution as I didn’t know enough about the education market. So I talked to a few students and my children who use a system called School Loop to get a basic understanding of the student and teacher expectations.”
Andrew Strauss’ children’s school uses QuickSchools. It was the only solution Landman found that was a pure subscription fee based model built with Open Source code. He signed up for a free trial on their web site, and then had more in-depth conversations with the principals and developers at QuickSchools. Four or five months passed between that first exposure and the next hands-on session. “One of the most amazing upgrades that impressed me was the translation of the screens to Vietnamese. The overall user interface and the flexibility of the system had just the right amount of functionality, with the ability to add more, which is fantastic.”
While school systems across nations are similar, States or Districts may have varied and more complex requirements. “Vietnam is like no other school system I’ve ever experienced. It’s not British-based, it’s not US-based, it’s really its own base and it’s honestly not the most fluid or easy education system that I’ve seen.” The grading scheme doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s so complicated —but the QuickSchools system is so flexible, that it was quickly customized or, more accurately, easily adapted. That’s unlike most of the competition.”
To compare competitive offerings, Landman recommends to the user consider the culture of and the mission of the company. “Even though the solutions have similar technology, or the screens are not as pretty or easy to use, it ultimately comes down to people that you’re working with. Can you work with the people? Are they responsive? Are they on the same page as you? Are you aligned in your vision and goals to make a difference and are you doing it together?” He explains further, “When what’s done isn’t working or you have questions, the company better be there. And honestly, QuickSchools has lives that.”
Landman’s experience with the other SIS providers was that they were not responsive or as eager to modify their offering. Other firms were either too busy or too small or too something to respond in a timely manner.
What Landman found with QuickSchools, first and most importantly, great people in the founders and the staff. “They come from the region where I’m working,” said Landman. “And the professionalism and the responsiveness was incredible.” A stand out feature for Landman was the constant contact—the guiding touch—that the user experiences with the online chat. “The responsiveness is unprecedented. Honestly, it’s one of the best support and communicative companies I’ve ever worked with.”
Landman believes emphatically that QuickSchools understands the user. The solution architecture is role-based—each user sees what they need to see, no more. More features can be added if the user role expands.
“The user interface is very clean,” describes Landman. “My head is not spinning and nor my eyes flickering when I look at the screen getting overwhelmed with the steps to execute an action. It really follows the workflow of the user.”
When the customer is from an environment where technology is less progressive, like most of Vietnam, role-based functionality is even more important. The feedback that Landman and his associates at Carego have gotten from administrators and teachers in Vietnam is, “This is really easy to see and use.”
“QuickSchools is very aligned—they know education, they know technology and what better recipe to make your students and your parents happy?” He concludes, “I think it’s the best system out there.”